Writing Personal Narrative Essays - Two Types of Assignments
What is a Personal Narrative Essay?
This type of essay requires you to tell a story – a story about yourself. It does not mean that you will be writing your personal autobiography – leave that to celebrities and political figures or someday when you gain fame and fortune. No, a personal narrative essay definition for academic purposes is the production of a piece of writing that focuses on some aspect of your personal story – an event or situation that had a major impact on the development of your values, for example. There are two-three times when you may face writing a personal narrative essay during your academic career:
- An English instructor may assign personal essays that relate to experiences that you have had. What, for example, was the most frightening experience you have ever had? What was your best family vacation? Relate the most embarrassing moment of your life. Your narrative personal essay will relate to these topic assignments.
- You will be engaged in writing personal essays as a part of the college admissions process. In these instances, you will be given prompts to which you must respond, and you usually have options. Some typical prompts might include:
- Describe a time when you met with a failure. What was your response to that failure and what did you learn from it?
- Recount a time when you had a difficult choice to make. What thinking process did you use to make that choice?
- Who is a personal hero of yours? How did that person come to be a personal hero?
How to Write a Personal Narrative Essay for College Admissions
Some students really love to write personal essays, because they have a “flair” for creativity and great methods of entertaining their readers. Other students really struggle with this type of essay. When it is a part of the college admissions process, moreover, it is easy to get nervous and experience writer’s block. Here are some suggestions for those of you who are having a hard time:
- Begin early. If you are using the Common Application, the essay prompts are published at least a year in advance, and you will have plenty of time to think about each of those prompts and to select one that will be the easiest for you to write.
- Jot down notes to yourself. Use OneNote or another app to keep a running list of things you might include in the essay.
- Ask other people to respond to the prompt – those responses may give you some ideas you had not thought of.
The Actual Writing
- When you are ready to start writing, make a list of the points you are going to make in the order in which you are going to make them. Remember the personal experience narrative essay involves telling a story, and usually there will be a very logical flow of events in that story.
- Do not worry about the introduction at this time. You want to get your body paragraphs down first, and you want to have good transitions from one paragraph to the next. The concern at this point is to get the story on paper in a logical way – you will be revising it later.
- Write your introduction. The point of an introduction for this and any essay you may write is to engage the reader in your story immediately. Start with a short startling sentence, perhaps something that really impacted you in relationship to the story you will tell. Some examples might be. “I remember waking up and wishing I were still in my dream.” (You have failed at something and don’t want to face it), or “My little brother got cancer at the age of 5.” (Perhaps he is your hero). This will pique the interest of the reader right away. Think about the short stories or novels you have read. Go back and read how they began. You will get other good ideas for a possible opening sentence. The point is this: you want the reader to want to read your essay.
Getting Some Help
Great narrative essay writing is really an art form, and it is not a talent that most of us have. If you are having a difficult time understanding how to write a personal narrative essay, you should not feel like a failure – you have good company. Many brilliant individuals, who can write great academic works, cannot produce a personal narrative that is engaging and of high interest. Make the decision to get some help. You can certainly turn your personal story over to GrabMyEssay.com and simply say, “Help me with my essay” or “Help me with my personal narrative essay.” We will assign a creative writing genius who can weave that story into a compelling piece of writing that no one will be able to put down!
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Examples of Awesome Personal Statements
Article Type: Tasty Bits
Write your own awesome personal statement with our COLLEGE APPLICATION ESSAY LAB, which will guide you through the process, providing tips and even more examples along the way.
Before you start, check out our own sample essays—or scroll down for the Best of the Web. Whether you're an athlete, a minority, or no one special (or, uh, probably some combination), we've got you covered.
No One Special
Some are surprising and some are clever, but they're all good examples of a "hook," not the kind with the pointy mustache but something that writers use to grab their reader's attention and make them want to keep reading.
Grab Them with the First Line
Stanford Magazine compiled the following list of great opening lines written by hopeful Stanford applicants.
Essays That Worked
Connecticut College posts a list of college essays “that worked.”
More Essays that Worked
Hamilton College provides access to some of their favorite application essays.
Other Resources for College Essay Writing
Writing the Personal Statement
The Purdue Online Writing lab offers a guide to writing all kinds of personal statements.
UC Berkeley Has a Say
Check out the University of California at Berkeley’s guide to writing the personal statement.
Application Tips: Tackling the Personal Essay
Abc.com provides some good tips on approaching the personal essay.
10 Tips for Writing the College Application Essay
The famous U.S. News & World Report offers some writing advice.
The Elements of Style
Flip through this famous guide to writing by William Strunk, Jr. that many students and teachers use. Read the 1918 version for free online.
Get Your Writing On
Some great handbooks on writing by writing guru Andrea Lunsford.
A Guide to Grammar and Writing
A cool interactive guide to grammar.
The University of Chicago’s guide to grammar.